A trip home, to New Mexico, was long over due. I moved to Idaho, and away from my family in 1988, when I was twelve. Even so, between then and 2003, a year never passed without me making a trip down. Then, life just happened. I don’t know how else to say it. Motherhood, work, living in the northern midwest, money… I managed a visit in 2006, because my grandmother passed away. I will be the first one to say that funerals being the reason, when you couldn’t manage when that person was alive is kind of the worst. I loved my grandmother dearly and truly had wanted to see her, logistically I didn’t know how to make it work.
Growing up, the family who lived next door really were my surrogate family. They had kids of their own, but I could have easily lived there. I talk quite a bit about it, in my book, but they were my soft, light-filled place to fall when my actual home was so dark. After I had moved into the visiting stage of my New Mexico residency, there was a lot of pressure put on me. My mom hated when I would spend time with anyone other than her, and my grandma was kind of the same. Any friendships I’d had from childhood were lost because life goes on, things happen, and my time in this little desert town was so controlled.
After ’06, I managed to make it down two more times- 2007 and 2010. The visits were costly to pull off, in all of the ways. The guilt and pressure that was always heaped on my shoulders, along with the actual travel expenses, made it an overwhelming endeavor. For the past eight years I have known I needed to make a trip down. First was to see my family but also, to see my next door “family”. With each visit, I would sneak over to their house by faking a nap or something. It was ridiculous how difficult it was. Once my youngest little bird had left the nest, I knew a trip down needed to be a priority. By then my mom was already up in Michigan, in a memory care facility. Though the point came when I had more family buried in the ground than alive, in the state, the desert still called to me. It came down to logistics every single time, and I hate it. As December wrapped up, I told my husband that 2019 WOULD hold a trip to New Mexico. It just had to…
What I hadn’t ever expected was that 6 weeks later I would be booking a flight because of a funeral. Another loved one in the ground… Here I am again, showing up for a funeral while it seemed too difficult to show up in life. I really do hate that.
This is the first time ever, in this dying southwest town, that I have felt the call to stay here. Not to leave my husband, but to be here more. To appreciate these mountain ranges, the abandoned buildings and all of the under the surface things that she has to offer. More than once I have questioned how possible it would be to be here more. (which, if I went almost nine years, I guess more could be anything less)
Time connecting with family has been all of the things one would expect- sad, emotional, heavy, bucket-filling, comical, grief filled (for all of the reasons you’d expect and a bunch you wouldn’t) but it has also reaffirmed my belief in the vitality of showing up. I spent a precious chunk of time with my next door “family”, and am already dreaming up my next desert trip.
I imagine we all have our own New Mexico Story– That thing we should do, and maybe even want to do, but it has carried so much heaviness in the path that it’s sometimes easier to just look the other way and let eight years pass… This month I’ve had to face a lot of things I hadn’t before- things about my own perceptions, childhood, darkness, etc… This month I am learning to show up, when it is needed. When my soul longs for it, it is my responsibility to pave the way. (with the exception of when I am literally not wanted, of course. Then they can just deal with it, and one day maybe they will show up at my funeral and question their own choices.) What is it that you need to pave the way for, making yourself more present and intentional?